What do Donald Trump, Tash Sultana and Tony Abbott have in common? Source: Wikimedia Commons

Opinion: funding for Trump’s wall would be better spent on foreign aid

What do Tash Sultana, Donald Trump and Tony Abbott have in common?

One of the best live music performances I’ve ever seen was by Australian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Tash Sultana, at Vancouver’s Malkin Bowl in May last year (look her up if you haven’t heard of her, she’s a musical genius).

Sultana identifies as nonbinary, so shall henceforth be referred to in the third person. Before starting their set, Sultana urged any homophobes, transphobes, zenophobes and racists to leave the venue (or to f*** right off in their words). Through their music, Sultana preaches love, equality and acceptance. Essentially, they stand for everything that Donald Trump doesn’t.

As of press time Tuesday, the U.S. government shutdown was entering its 18th day and Trump was expected to make a primetime address about the “humanitarian and national security crisis” on the southern border.

LOOK BACK: Trump, Democrats ramp up pressure as U.S. shutdown hits 3rd week

The shutdown is currently the second longest in history, affecting about 800,000 federal workers, many of whom will go without paycheques this week. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to the American people.

Trump has threatened to keep the government closed for months, even years, unless the Democrats agree to fund his wall. Throughout his presidency, he has made a mockery of the government, the U.S. and democracy itself.

Any other president or world leader would have crumbled under the accusations, investigations and evidence levelled against Trump since his election in 2016 (and indeed prior to this). But he appears immune to the scandals that have haunted his government from day one.

Trump rules with fear and has demonized whole nations. His presidency is a trademark of the isolationism that is playing out around the world, where countries are growing increasingly nationalist and withdrawing from global responsibility.

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott used the same tactics as Trump when promoting the Coalition’s anti-immigration policies. He was well known for his catchphrase “stop the boats”, which was in fact coined by current PM Scott Morrison.

While turning back the boats may have proven effective in the long term, the policy has since been declared illegal under international law by a United Nations report and one that “may intentionally put lives at risk”. And, initially, turning back the boats did not stop people risking their lives by taking to international waters to seek refuge in Australia, nor did it do anything to address the persecution and conflict many were fleeing from.

It is both wasteful and damaging to the U.S.’s international image to spend billions of American taxpayer dollars on a structure that is only a bandaid solution to these so-called border issues. The focus should be on breaking down barriers, not building them.

Instead of worrying about delivering on his key election promise (which polling has found the majority of Americans don’t support), Trump should redirect these billions into foreign aid to help resolve the very problems that drive people across the border in the first place.

We’ve just rung in a new year but I’m already looking forward to 2020, specifically November 3.

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